Feyenoord fought back from two goals down in the Bulgaria capital Sofia, grabbing a draw in the Uefa Cup first round, first leg tie Thursday. The home side were two ahead after less than a half hour, but an injury time penalty by Theo Lucius at the end of the first half and a header by Serginho Greene on the hour gave Feyenoord every chance of sealing advancement to the group stages when the teams reconvene at De Kuip in a fortnight.

Angelos Charisteas and Ali Boussaboun were both forced off with knocks in a game that saw Dwight Tiendalli, Danny Buijs and Royston Drenthe all make their European bow for Feyenoord. But the evening was characterised by a lacklustre performance by the Maassiders, who gave the impression that they still have a lot to learn before they can get anywhere near the dizzy European heights of 2002. 

Tiendalli made his mistake on four minutes and it was brutally punished by the home side. Kristian Dodrev found himself with all the space in the world to cross and Genkov has oceans of space thanks to an inattentive André Bahia, placing his header out of the reach of Timmer to give Lokomotiv an early lead.

Feyenoord replied with something of a recovery, which led to the visitors’ first chance of the game. Serginho Greene got his head onto Nicky Hofs’ free kick and keeper Urosh Golubovich was forced to turn the ball around the post for a corner. It turned out to be a rose in the desert however, as the Rotterdammers once more found themselves on the back foot. The game was just shy of the half hour when Henk Timmer misjudged Dafchev’s free kick and could only watch how the ball flew past him and into the net for 2-0.  

It was only after the second goal that Feyenoord started to show any organisation. Jonathan de Guzman was dangerous on two occasions within a minute, but Golubovich managed to keep the ball out both times.

The reply did eventually come before half time, although Feyenoord needed an extra four minutes additional time to finally getting round to scoring. Angelos Charisteas was floored in the box and Lucius stepped up to smash in the penalty seconds before referee Sandomen blew for half time.  

The goal could have easily swung the momentum in Feyenoord’s favour after the break, but it was Lokomotiv that motored forward in the early stages of the second half. The home side tried their luck with a series of shots, but Timmer showed he was up to the challenge, keeping his side within touching distance.

Feyenoord took their time, looking patiently for opportunities to break out of the Bulgarian grip. On the hour, Greene nodded in De Guzman’s corner and suddenly Feyenoord were level. For all their forward thinking, the Bulgarians found themselves pegged back to 2-2, with an away leg to come.

Coach Grozdanov’s team didn’t fancy the prospect after dominating for much of the game and the home side piled forward again. Koeman attempted to distract them by bringing on fresh legs and attacking wits in Pierre van Hooijdonk and Ali Boussaboun. Lokomotiv certainly gave it their all, spurred on by fanatical support, but Feyenoord held out in the end.

Lokomotiv Sofia-Feyenoord 2-2
4’ 1-0 Genkov
28’ 2-0 Dafchev
45’ (+ 4) 2-1 Lucius (pen)
60’ 2-2 Greene

Yellow: Varbanov, Lucius, Greene, De Guzman

Referee: Sandomen

Lokomotiv: Golubovich; Varbanov, Markov, Tsvetkov; Orachev, Koilov, Dafchev (68’ Ivanov), Karadjinov, Dobrev; Genkov, Antunovich (89’ Velichkov).

Feyenoord: Timmer; Tiendalli, Greene, Bahia, Drenthe; Buijs, Hofs, Lucius, De Guzman; Huysegems (60’ Boussaboun/78’ Kolkka), Charisteas (61’ Van Hooijdonk). 

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